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SHIFTING FOCUS explores the need to move away from the notion of personal carbon footprints and instead focus our collective energy on systemic policy change.

Written by Cassidy Grimes & David Erb

Climate change is a daunting challenge to say the least. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the scale of the crisis, especially when you consider what we can do as individuals. But as mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts, we don’t pedal away from big climbs or gnarly downhills, instead we dig deep, strategize and push ourselves to achieve our goals. 

For years, riding our bikes has been a part of the narrative that cycling is a solution to climate change. While bicycles are a more sustainable mode of transportation, we can’t deny these facts:

  • Bicycles are made of materials that require oil for production.
  • Most people drive to the trails.
  • Many of us travel to ride in different cities and countries.

It's easy to immediately vilify the mountain biker for driving a pickup truck or the materials used for bike frames and components. Don’t get us wrong—we value individual action and actively support brands and bikers in striving for improvement. However, this perspective overlooks the larger issue.  While it’s important to live an examined life, the only way to tackle climate change is through large-scale systemic solutions, specifically a global shift from fossil fuels to renewables. 


Despite the doom and gloom, there’s lots of great things happening right now in the fight against climate change. The Global  energy transition to renewables is on a blistering pace and is now at a tipping point where its momentum will be impossible to stop. 

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global annual renewable capacity additions surged by nearly 50% in 2023, reaching almost 510 gigawatts (GW). This marks the fastest growth rate in the past two decades and the 22nd consecutive year that renewable capacity additions have set a new record. Europe, the United States, and Brazil saw record increases in renewable capacity, while China's acceleration was extraordinary, commissioning as much solar PV capacity as the entire world did in 2022 and achieving a 66% year-on-year increase in wind capacity.

Not convinced yet? Well there’s more, the best-selling vehicle in the world in 2023 was electric (Tesla Model Y), Portugal ran entirely on renewables for six consecutive days, and the world is on track to triple its renewable capacity by 2030. This is a monumental achievement and needs to be celebrated.

These changes are being ushered in by progressive climate policy in countries around the world. Climate policy can be both the carrot and the stick. The carrot being tax breaks and other financial incentives that create the market certainty for other large scale institutional investment. The stick can be a regulatory framework to limit the expansion of fossil fuel projects and to put a price on pollution (carbon tax). 

But why are they passing these policy and legislative changes? It’s due to collective public pressure from individuals uniting to demand action. 

Throughout history, it’s been social movements, not governments, that have been responsible for ushering in radical change. Women’s Rights, Civil Rights and LGBTQ2+ Rights were all initiated by passionate constituencies who were not satisfied with the status quo and organized themselves to demand change. These groups often started at the fringes of society and faced rejection after rejection. But eventually, the movements grew larger and louder, becoming more mainstream and generating victories and wins along the way. 

The climate movement has grown massively in the last 5 years. We can’t be ignored and now we are seeing the policies we’ve been advocating for finally being adopted. There’s still lots of work to do and it needs to be done VERY quickly to keep climate change in check. At POW, we bring NEW voices into the movement. By connecting the impacts of climate change on the places outdoor people love, we motivate and empower them to turn their passion into purpose. 

 The challenges posed by climate change are no longer a distant threat and what needs to be done ain’t easy and no brands can do this alone. This is the big move on the trail we’re all in, the big slab with exposure and a sketchy exit… But if we take it section by section, we can find the right line. Will it be a perfectly smooth first shot? Most likely not, will we be stoked if we make a bit of progress, heck yeah we will!

So chin up, elbows out and look further than your front wheel.


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